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G.R. No. !""# March $, #""
AR%UR& M. DE 'AS%R&, Petitioner,
vs.
(UDI'IA) AND *AR '&UN'I) +(*', and -RESIDEN% G)&RIA MA'A-AGA) .
ARR&/&, Respondents.
FACTS: The compulsory retirement of Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno by ay !", #$!$ occurs %ust days
after the comin& presidential elections on ay !$, #$!$.
These cases trace their &enesis to the controversy that has arisen from the forthcomin& compulsory
retirement of Chief Justice Puno on ay !", #$!$, or seven days after the presidential election. Under
Section 0+,, in relation to Section !, Article 1III, that "vacancy shall be filled within ninety days from
the occurrence thereof" from a "list of at least three nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council for
every vacancy.' Also considerin& that Section 2, Article 1II ()*ecutive +epartment, of the Constitution
prohibits the President or Acting President from making appointments within two months immediately
before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, e*cept temporary appointments to
e*ecutive positions -hen continued vacancies therein -ill pre%udice public service or endan&er public
safety.
The J.C, in its en banc meetin& of January !/, #$!$, unanimously a&reed to start the process of fillin& up
the position of Chief Justice.
Conformably -ith its e*istin& practice, the J.C 'automatically considered' for the position of Chief Justice
the five most senior of the Associate Justices of the Court, namely: Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio0
Associate Justice Renato C. Corona0 Associate Justice Conchita Carpio orales0 Associate Justice
Presbitero J. 1elasco, Jr.0 and Associate Justice Antonio )duardo .. 2achura. 3o-ever, the last t-o
declined their nomination throu&h letters dated January !/, #$!$ and January #4, #$!$, respectively.
The 5S6 contends that the incumbent President may appoint the ne*t Chief Justice, because the
prohibition under Section !4, Article 177 of the Constitution does not apply to appointments in the Supreme
Court. 7t ar&ues that any vacancy in the Supreme Court must be filled -ithin 8$ days from its occurrence,
pursuant to Section 9(!,, Article 1777 of the Constitution0 that had the framers intended the prohibition to
apply to Supreme Court appointments, they could have easily e*pressly stated so in the Constitution,
-hich e*plains -hy the prohibition found in Article 177 ()*ecutive +epartment, -as not -ritten in Article
1777 (Judicial +epartment,0 and that the framers also incorporated in Article 1777 ample restrictions or
limitations on the President:s po-er to appoint members of the Supreme Court to ensure its independence
from 'political vicissitudes' and its 'insulation from political pressures,'

such as strin&ent ;ualifications for
the positions, the establishment of the J.C, the specified period -ithin -hich the President shall appoint a
Supreme Court Justice.
A part of the uestion to be reviewed by the Court is whether the JBC properly initiated the process! there
being an insistence from some of the oppositors"intervenors that the JBC could only do so once the
vacancy has occurred #that is! after $ay %&! '(%(). Another part is! of course! whether the JBC may
resume its process until the short list is prepared! in view of the provision of *ection +#%)! Article ,---!
which unualifiedly reuires the President to appoint one from the short list to fill the vacancy in the
*upreme Court #be it the Chief Justice or an Associate Justice) within .( days from the occurrence of the
vacancy.
7SS<): =hether the incumbent President can appoint the successor of Chief Justice Puno upon his
retirement.
3)>+:
-rohibition under Section 2, Article 1II does not a33ly to a33oint4ents to 5ill a 6acancy in the Su3re4e
'ourt or to other a33oint4ents to the (udiciary.
T-o constitutional provisions are seemin&ly in conflict.
The first, Section 2, Article 1II ()*ecutive +epartment,, provides: Section !4. T-o months immediately before the
ne*t presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a President or Actin& President shall not ma?e
appointments, e*cept temporary appointments to e*ecutive positions -hen continued vacancies therein -ill
pre%udice public service or endan&er public safety.
The other, Section 0 +,, Article 1III (Judicial +epartment,, states: Section 9. (!,. The Supreme Court shall be
composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices. 7t may sit en banc or in its discretion, in division of
three, five, or seven embers. Any vacancy shall be filled -ithin ninety days from the occurrence thereof.
3ad the framers intended to e*tend the prohibition contained in Section !4, Article 177 to the appointment
of embers of the Supreme Court, they could have e*plicitly done so. They could not have i&nored the
meticulous orderin& of the provisions. They -ould have easily and surely -ritten the prohibition made
e*plicit in Section !4, Article 177 as bein& e;ually applicable to the appointment of embers of the
Supreme Court in Article 1777 itself, most li?ely in Section 9 (!,, Article 1777. That such specification -as not
done only reveals that the prohibition a&ainst the President or Actin& President ma?in& appointments
-ithin t-o months before the ne*t presidential elections and up to the end of the President:s or Actin&
President:s term does not refer to the embers of the Supreme Court.
3ad the framers intended to e*tend the prohibition contained in Section !4, Article 177 to the appointment
of embers of the Supreme Court, they could have e*plicitly done so. They could not have i&nored the
meticulous orderin& of the provisions. They -ould have easily and surely -ritten the prohibition made
e*plicit in Section !4, Article 177 as bein& e;ually applicable to the appointment of embers of the
Supreme Court in Article 1777 itself, most li?ely in Section 9 (!,, Article 1777. That such specification -as not
done only reveals that the prohibition a&ainst the President or Actin& President ma?in& appointments
-ithin t-o months before the ne*t presidential elections and up to the end of the President:s or Actin&
President:s term does not refer to the embers of the Supreme Court.
Section !9, Section !4, and Section !@ are obviously of the same character, in that they affect the po-er
of the President to appoint. The fact that Section !9 and Section !@ refer only to appointments -ithin the
)*ecutive +epartment renders conclusive that Section !4 also applies only to the )*ecutive +epartment.
This conclusion is consistent -ith the rule that every part of the statute must be interpreted -ith reference
to the conte*t! i.e. that every part must be considered to&ether -ith the other parts, and ?ept subservient
to the &eneral intent of the -hole enactment. 7t is absurd to assume that the framers deliberately situated
Section !4 bet-een Section !9 and Section !@, if they intended Section !4 to cover all ?inds of
presidential appointments. 7f that -as their intention in respect of appointments to the Judiciary, the
framers, if only to be clear, -ould have easily and surely inserted a similar prohibition in Article 1777, most
li?ely -ithin Section 9 (!, thereof.